International Women’s Day – an interview with, Rachael McGeachie our Head of Group Compliance and Director of Affinity (Isle of Man)

Tell us about your career progress to board level? What has your own experience been? What support have you had and what challenges have you faced?

Having held the position of Head of Compliance for some time, my role has always meant working closely with the Board allowing me to forge strong relationships with them and benefit from exposure to business operation at that level. Leading projects on compliance and risk initiatives for the business as a whole put me in good stead to make my progression to join the Board a natural next step.

Our leadership team keeps the compliance culture at the forefront of all aspects of our business so I am very fortunate to have unfettered support in my application of risk management. In addition, and again from a very fortunate position, the team has a strong bond that shares support for our professional and personal endeavours.

As a leader in the business, how do you see your responsibilities, particularly relating to your female colleagues?

My responsibilities are focussed on maintaining our regulatory compliance, identification and mitigation of risk. These role specifics translate into all aspects of what I bring to the leadership team. Aside from the obvious responsibilities associated with my role I take great pride in being part of the Affinity vision, steering the business successfully and promoting a culture that is a healthy and happy place for the workforce.

Being a woman in business you can’t help but be aware of issues some face in respect of equality and fair treatment, with hot topic documentaries and attention hitting headlines citing multinational organisations driving a movement to reset the balance. With that in mind I think it is all the more important to nurture and encourage our female colleagues. I think Affinity is a shining example of a business doing things the right way, highlighted by our leadership team having such a strong female presence.

How does Affinity Group support the development of female colleagues and why does the company believe it’s important to take these steps?

Affinity support the development of all our colleagues in equal measure and that support sees no boundaries or hurdles by gender. We believe in investing in our staff and by doing so we have cultivated a workforce of talented and dynamic team players who share a common goal of success for the business, our clients and ourselves.

Speaking to peers at other companies, what is the general feeling about the opportunities for women to progress to leadership roles?

My professional career has spanned long enough that I remember the days of the board room being male dominated and a woman taking a seat at the table was a rare sight unless they were taking minutes. That memory, although not all that distant, seems archaic now looking back. A glance around industry in whatever guise of financial services shows gender bias has no place in any firm that want a strong and capable workforce.

What would you want to see from other businesses and the CSP sector as a whole to support the development of women into leadership roles?

The support for capable and ambitious women needs to continue and be championed. The path to leadership roles is there for those that want it and that will work to get it.

Looking back, what three pieces of advice do you have for your younger self?

Believe in your convictions and yourself, stand firm in those beliefs and don’t get a perm!